Ken de la Bastide: Two weeks of racing excitement in Indiana

May 14—The next two weeks, as always, will be an exciting time for racing fans from around the country to descend on central Indiana.

I, along with many fans, recall my first Indy 500 race in 1976 and my first Little 500 in 1973.

Both were memorable experiences, and the weekend never disappoints.

The activity starts this weekend with qualifying for the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Currently there are 34 teams vying for one of the 33 starting spots on the grid.

Defending IndyCar champion Alex Palou got off to a great start in the month of May by winning the pole position and the Indy Grand Prix on Saturday.

Palou will attempt to become only the second driver in history to win both the Grand Prix and Indy 500 in the same year.

Will Power accomplished the feat in 2018.

There will be a lot of attention on the effort of former NASCAR champion Kyle Larson looking to make his first Indy 500 and compete in the double with the NASCAR race at Charlotte on the same day.

Larson has been impressive in practice and could be a contender for a front-row starting position.

Another interesting storyline is how the Team Penske drivers of defending champion Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin deal with having new race strategists for the Indianapolis 500.

Sunday will determine who will start on the pole position as the fastest six drivers from Saturday will compete for a front-row starting spot.

The day will also include filling out the last row for the Indy 500.

Beginning next Wednesday will mark practice for the 76th running of the Little 500 at Anderson Speedway.

As of Tuesday, there are 44 teams entered for the Little 500.

Drivers will look for the right setup on the demanding quarter-mile high-banked oval to lock into the 15 starting positions May 23 for pole day.

With 44 entries to date, it means there will be added pressure on teams to lock into the starting field for the May 25 race.

Bump day May 24 should be filled with lots of drama as teams and drivers want to make sure they're in the starting field of 33.

The intensity will be obvious on both pole and bump days as teams from around the country want to be in the starting field.

With nine rookies looking to make their first Little 500 start, the importance of qualifying for the race will become paramount in their efforts.

Defending race winner Jake Trainor, the latest rookie to win the Little 500, will seek to make it back-to-back wins.

Othe former winners on the entry list include Jeff Bloom, Kody Swanson, Bobby Santos III and Tyler Roahrig

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.